A little bit of history to give the story some context. I qualified as a Sports Therapist back in 2004. I’d spent 7 years working hard to become as proficient as possible. I was using an array of Sports Massage techniques combined with a variety of physiotherapy techniques involving Maitland and Mulligan joint mobilisation and exercise prescription – for those rare clients with motivation to do any exercises! See previous post Does Exercise Based Physiotherapy Actually Work?
I’d added a neurological slant to my work having greatly enjoyed the NOI Groups courses. Enabling me to join nerves and muscles together from top to toe and investigate there interaction for the benefit of the clients.
I had developed a methodology. One I believed was pretty good. Even if I do say so myself! To grossly simplify I was mobilising the nerve root of the muscles I was looking to affect before treating the muscles – including synergists and antagonists (that’s muscles that work with and oppose muscles for the non-technical readers).
This seemed to be reasonably effective. But there was something missing. Sometimes it worked perfectly. Well as much as things can be perfect when dealing with the human body. Other times it worked a little bit. But sometimes it just didn’t work at all. What was I missing?
What Happened In April 2011?
Not that I’m a sucker for marketing, but I found myself watching one of Doug’s promotional video via the Physio UK website. It showed him testing psoas (your main hip flexor) before and after his ‘magical’ intervention. It really did seem too good to be true. Curiosity got the better of me and I signed up to the course. Leaving my bank balance somewhat bereft!
I went along to the Be Activated Muscle Activation course in April 2011 looking to get a magical new trick to get the exceptionally important psoas firing as I would like. This would fit very nicely into my tool kit and current model and allow me to push my treatments onto the next level.
What I hadn’t bargained for was having to rip up everything I had been doing for the previous 7 years and start with a whole new view of the body and life in general on the following Monday morning. With a clearly more effective, totally different approach to the bio-mechanics.
So How Effective Is Be Activated Muscle Activation Technique?
Very! I actually didn’t want it to work. Surely it meant all the previous learning was wasted? I still remember hating that first week back at work grudgingly fixing clients that I’d been struggling to get a long term solution. Having to admit this new approach was clearly had some significant benefits that I still didn’t fully understand.
Since that initial frustration I have of course integrated what I was doing previously into compliment the muscle activation techniques. In my opinion life experience is rarely a waste of time. I still use joint mobilisation, sports massage and exercise prescription. Even better the Be Activated muscle activation techniques also compliment additional learning since then about whole body alignment and fascial release.
The Be Activated muscle activation course was the start of a new beginning for me. Clients seemed be getting better faster. I was able to help clients I couldn’t have helped before. I was beginning to get a reputation! The clients attracted to the clinic were getting more and more challenging as reputation built. Possibly tempted by the idea of not having to wait 6 weeks to see if some exercises actually made an difference. We could test our ideas and theories there and then.
What Is Be Activated Muscle Activation Good At?
Muscles. Lots of them. All of them! And by implication joints too. Here’s some thoughts from the last 11 years as to where it works particularly well:
- Calming The Nervous System – Calming people down. When people are more stressed out, tired, emotional they feel more pain. The combination of breathing work and being able to interrupt that with the techniques is invaluable. Releasing the diaphragm and psoas just seems to turn the volume down on even the most painful of conditions. The adrenal points, front and back further add to this calming effect.
- Sorting The Wood From The Trees – You’ve just sat down with a client. They’ve told you their life history and they’ve explain in great detail 4 conditions in one go without taking a breath! Using the activation frame work it’s quite possible to get a shift in all 4 conditions at the same time. It enables you to see if there is a genuine issue locally with the tissues that feel pain or they were merely a scapegoat for bio-mechanical imbalance.
- Low Back Pain – Everyone wants the magical panacea for low back pain. It may well just be the posterior adrenal activation point. Never mind affecting calf length. Get involved to sort back pain! For the non-technical this a little magic button stolen from Chinese Meridians. It’s buried within the muscles either side of your low back and seems to be responsible for a whole lot of back pain.
- Developing Clinical Intuition – You start thinking in different ways very quickly. Previously if I’d have seen a client clenching their jaw I wouldn’t have thought twice about it. Now it leads me down a whole new path of clinical reasoning. And it’s fun. It gives you a platform from which you can grow and further expand your clinical knowledge. I think my favourite one still to date is fixing someone’s right knee by rubbing their left temple! It took me a while to justify it, but I got there.
What Is Be Activated Muscle Activation Not So Good At?
One of Doug’s many catch phrases is: “Whatever is in the mind is in the body.” I couldn’t agree more with this statement and the latest in pain science is agreeing with this. If you have a client in front of you who, for example, is going through a lot then you need to ask the question is this person ready to let go of these problems. In some cases they are not. It takes a great deal of clinical experience and confidence to realise when the best thing to do is not to actually treat the client but talk to them. Once you have a addressed the psychological side of the problem you will of course get better results. Sometimes people will not be ready for either physical or emotional work. It’s important to recognise when the best thing to do is nothing.
This is often the case when people of simply too sensitised. There pain is off the charts. Perhaps they’re not able to tolerate some of the more invasive techniques which in the majority of people are the most effective. Personally for severely sensitised people I find helping them to understand that pain isn’t damage and pain is not in most cases due to mechanical issues a great help and burden lifter. (I do of course check for fresh mechanical issues before this chat!)
If someone who is very sensitised is ready for some physical work I find that the pokey nature of muscle activation can be difficult for them to relax into. Even if do lightly. You can of course simply revert to just touch which can be effective but I personally find some gentle fascial release on these most sensitive of areas easier to tolerate and so more effective.
I have no doubt that the Activation’s work as desired. I have tested and tested the theories. I’m the kind of guy that needs evidence! Sometimes even if there is no pain on the activation site it will still have the desired effect on the muscle you are trying to improve. On occasion however the lengthening in the muscle does not last. It’s at this point that my old Sports Massage skills come in handy to release the offending trigger points. If the activation hasn’t been ‘holding’ the under lying muscle tension can be one of the causes.
In these cases I still find be activated muscle activation useful and find that the muscle will respond better to sports massage after the muscle has been activated. A great example of this is an ACL reconstruction case – I’ve seen plenty. The Activations are fantastic at desensitising the area around the knee which then allows you to release the muscles around the creaky knee without aggravating the previously sensitive area.
This approach can be applied all over the body. Desensitise the area using the muscle activation approach to bio-mechanics and then any localised work you do simply works better. Of course in many cases by the time you’ve been through your muscle activations you don’t need to touch ‘the bit that hurt’ at all.
What Can Be Activated Muscle Activation Technique Do For Me?
In my opinion it gives us another very good option towards more effective pain relief and improvement in performance. It goes beyond traditional physiotherapy and I personally find it far more effective than using traditional methods alone. It also makes it clearer, by the fact that we test in the here and now, which traditional physiotherapy exercises are going to be the most appropriate for you. Making it a much more individualised approach. For a lot of people we’ve treated it’s given them hope and massively improved the quality of their life.
If you’ve got a problem that is proving difficult to resolve give us a call for a chat to see how the Be Activated muscle activations might be able to help you turn the corner and start improving the quality of your life.
For any therapists who’ve got this far down the article, well done. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedules to read these words. My advice to you. Stick with it. It can be daunting changing your approach and the temptation is to always stick to what you know. But maybe what you knew isn’t now what you know?!
Furthermore I would reinforce Doug’s philosophy of adding anything that compliments the activation work or activation complimenting what you already do. We use the activations as part our overall raft of techniques and ideas to help our clients. I recommend you do the same. Respect and learn from the past but don’t be afraid to walk boldly to the future.
What’s Next For Brighton Physiotherapy and Sports Therapy?
Having firmly assimilated Be Activated’s muscle activation into our work what’s our next challenge? To find more useful and interesting avenues of growth to offer to our clientele to help them with their lives. Since that course 11 years ago I’ve explored an alternative approach called connect therapy. An approach I learned much from and use in conjunction with the whole body approach that was introduced to me by muscle activation.
I’ve further my knowledge in this whole body approach learning and understanding new ideas and concepts on how the body is connected from Anatomy Trains and now implement their fascial relseas techniques to help compliment the muscles activation techniques to change the way people hold themselves and the way they function to further aid their recovery and performance..
More so I’ve followed Doug’s mantra of ‘whatever is in the mind is in the body’ to better understand how, why and where that is the case to help people move forwards through the emotional release they can feel with the body work that we do.
Into the future I plan to continue to further read around my subject which I’m so passionate about. Continue to develop my hands on technical skills – especially in the realm of fascial release. And continue to embrace the emotional aspect of the work we do by studying a life coaching course so we can get two jobs done at the same time! And I’d like to check how Doug is doing and how he’s evolved his approach in the last 4 years since we last met…